There's nothing more Christmas-y than the scent of pine wafting into your living room from a twinkling live tree. On the other hand, there's nothing sadder than a dejected brown one that you couldn't figure out how to keep fresh. This is why knowing Christmas tree care hacks are all-too-important in keeping the tree—and the magic—alive for the season, and preventing family members from getting upset when the green branches they worked so hard to decorate start to brown and break off.
While extending the life of a tree can be tricky, there's no reason to ruin Christmas by not learning a few clever ways to prevent your living plant's eventual decline from happening sooner. After all, it's not easy to get in the spirit of the season when your supposed beacon of Christmas looks super dejected and about to kick the bucket in your living room.
If you already headed into the lot and picked out the perfect one, make sure no one is crying over a dead tree this year with these unique tips for caring for a live tree. It's not just about not having to vacuum up a zillion needles that have fallen all over the floor, or even getting your money's worth. Really, it's about preventing your tree from reaching Charlie Brown status—spare, falling over, and unable to hold up even a few ornaments without breaking. Use these seven Christmas tree care hacks to keep your living room full of that delicious pine-y scent for the rest of the season, and your tree from dampening the spirit of the whole holiday.
1Recut The Trunk When You Get Home
Fact: many tree lots keep their wares out for weeks, causing dried sap to block them from absorbing water well. If you are able to do so at home, the Tree Care Association suggests giving the bottom of the tree a fresh cut right before putting it in water to maximize the amount of water it can drink.
2Cover A Fresh-Cut Trunk Wiith A Damp Cloth
Another tip from the Tree Care Association: If you can't cut it at home, have the nursery recut your tree on site. Then, to preserve the cut while waiting to get it into water, cover the bottom of the trunk in a damp cloth on the car ride home.
3Keep Your Tree Away From The Heat
It might seem like a no brainer that trees near heat sources dry out faster, but there might be a few ways you're making your tree hotter without knowing it. Try keeping your tree out of direct sunlight and away from fireplaces and vents to keep it hydrated longer. If you can hack it, lowering the room temperature will also help (though we won't blame you if you don't do this. Who's going to do that in winter?)
4Use Lights With Smaller Bulbs
For the same reason you're keeping your tree away from the heat, make sure the lights on the tree aren't giving off a ton of warmth, either. Mini lights versus giant bulbs will work well for this.
5Follow The Stand-To-Water Ratio
According the National Christmas Tree Association, stands should provide "one quart of water per inch of stem diameter." Depending on how long the bottom of your tree trunk is across, that's how much water your tree is going to be drinking, and that's how you should go about picking out your stand. (It's a little involved, yes, but it's what you gotta do for long-lasting trees!)
6Don't Use Treated Water
Wait, what? Yes, according to a study, there's no proof that using sugar, vinegar, aspirin or any other additives in the water help keep the tree alive. Instead, as the conductor of the study and tree scientist Les Werner notes, "Clean water still works best."
7Use A PVC Pipe and Funnel To Water Your Tree
For those who find it a pain to crawl under the tree to water it, this one's plain genius: simply take PVC pipe, stick it into the tree stand where you'll be sending the water, the pour into a funnel. With this trick, there's no need to get on your hands and knees.